Former President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers say the alleged communication between the National Prosecuting Authority and KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie is an attempt to manipulate the composition of the bench that will preside over Zuma’s corruption trial.

This follows a leaked letter purported to have been written by the Deputy-Director of Public Prosecutions, Billy Downer to Jappie.

Zuma and his co-accused French arms company Thales face 16 charges relating to fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

The letter requests that Zuma’s trial starts next year, adding that it will not be prudent to start the trial now due to challenges around the coronavirus.

The letter also says it remains uncertain if a Thales representative will be able to travel from France to attend the trial under the lockdown.

Zuma’s legal team has registered their concern about the communication between the State and the KZN Judge President without their knowledge or involvement.

Mabuza questioned why the courts entered into a discussion with the state without informing him and requests that the trial commence as soon as possible.

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